I like the central myth of Christianity and I like Jesus the man although I am not a believer. (The word “myth” implies neither truth or falsehood. It refers to any sacred story that seeks to explain something important.)
First, his family. The state tax bureaucracy of his day stupidly forced everyone in a wide area to get registered inconveniently in government offices that were not necessarily located near where they lived. Without complaining, Jesus’ father, Joseph, and his pregnant mother, Mary, took the long trip from Nazareth, in the north where they lived, down to Jerusalem where they were expected to register. There was no way to make reservations and maybe, they started late. At any rate, when they reached Jerusalem, there were no rooms to be obtained anywhere. So, without bitterness, they walked around until they found a bare-bone place to stay in the nearby small town of Bethlehem. It was only a cave that served as a stable. It was warmed a little by the animals a farmer kept there. They just settled down in the straw as best as they could.
There, Mary gave birth to Jesus, unassisted but apparently with no problem. Joseph and Mary swaddled the baby in one of Joseph’s shirts and they put him to sleep in a manger that is, in a trough where some of the animals were fed or watered. An ox, that was stabled in the cave, and the donkey on which Mary had traveled part of the long way from Nazareth blew their warm breaths on the newborn and thus kept him comfortable. Local shepherds, drawn by the unusual night activity in the cave came around to marvel at the new baby. They must have left some ewes’ cheese behind as presents.
Joseph and Mary were unassuming people. They did what they could under difficult circumstances. This leads me to believe that they would probably bring up their son well later on. There was some gossip of scandal about the baby’s conception. Joseph was a good man who chose to ignore it and to be a father to Jesus. We don’t know how long Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Jesus had to remain in the cave. Anyway, some astronomers from far away, maybe from Persia, came by the cave and they also left presents. precious substances like incense, myrrh and some gold, which always comes handy to a strapped up family. The astronomers were dabbling in astrology, of course, after the custom of the times. As such, they tended to spread rumors.
At some point, the rumor spread that the newborn was God become man, become human. That was a very good rumor because when a god becomes human, humans become like god. And then, the path is open to ordinary individuals being important in their own right. It was pretty much the first time this had happened.
After a while, the family went home to Nazareth were Joseph was a carpenter. We don’t know where Jesus went to school or if he went at all. He must have because he seemed to have been able to read the religious writings of his time and place. Also probably, he apprenticed to his father as a carpenter. At any rate, he did not become a lawyer or a government employee. He must have had an honest trade until he decided to go on a long walk to urge people to shape up.
While on the road, he did only good things. His first miracle was to turn water into wine at a wedding. That’ a good deed anyway you look at it, when people are not driving, at least. Then, he went around with a bunch of buddies, most of them blue-collar types like him, and he urged people to stop being a..-h….He helped cure the sick and brought a perfect stranger out of a deep coma. When he caught fanatics about to kill a woman because they thought she was a ho, he told them to f…-o.. unless they had never done anything wrong themselves. That stopped them dead in their tracks. Another time, he got into trouble at the biggest church in Jerusalem because people were making money right there and then. He beat them a little with a rope he had found on the ground. That was the only time he did anything violent, unlike other religious leaders I could name.
One of the people with whom Jesus paled around was a former call-girl.
What happened or did not happen between Mary of Magdalena and him is nobody’s business. Let’s just say that he was about thirty, vigorous from walking the roads of Palestine and kept lean by a minimalist diet, and that women love men who talk well.
Later, Jesus got into major trouble with the authorities. He denounced hypocrites and spoke ridicule to the powerful once too often, it seems. He definitely had a big mouth. So, a kangaroo court condemned him to the worst possible state-implemented death available at the time. The police chief declared he did not want to have anything to do with it but he stood by and did nothing. (His name was Ponce, or something.) After his death, the government stole his body because it was afraid Jesus’ buddies would make a big deal of his place of rest. In spite of all the government’s efforts, Jesus’ buddies went around and told the story to everyone and the government lost. After several torturous centuries, there was the Enlightenment that placed individuals square and fair in the middle of everything that matters.
And, yes, Jesus was Jewish. Would I make this up?